The best way to start is simply to send me an email at
and explain what sort of custom mask you want. Custom masks are often no more expensive than an existing mask from the catalog which is the closest equivalent to what you're looking for. If you write to me and describe the mask you want, I'll give you a ballpark estimate.
The next step is to develop a sketch of the mask. Of course, if what you want is some variation on one of my standard masks - say, a Green Man in autumn colors of red and yellow, or a Black Bear instead of a Brown, the sketch stage may not be necessary. If the design is a new and original one, however, it will be important to create the sketch to make sure we're on the same page as far as what the final mask will look like. At this point, we'll want to talk about colors, too. I can match colors to a costume at no extra charge, as long as you can send me swatches of the costume material. If you're a designer who uses the Pantone color matching system, I can match to PMS colors, too.
Sketches for new custom designs require a $50. nonrefundable deposit (which will be applied to the price of the mask). Once the sketch is done, and you're satisfied with the design, I'll give you a final price quote.
The ideal way to create a custom mask is for me to make a cast of your face. Working with a face cast is the only way to absolutely ensure that a mask will fit perfectly from the first time you put it on. However, such a preliminary step is not convenient for everyone, nor is it absolutely necessary. As with many leather products, leather masks will, over time, adapt themselves to you. And the fact is, most of my clients find they are perfectly happy with the masks I make using my standard models.
However, if you really want a top of the line, perfectly customized mask, a face cast is recommended.
Some of my clients have occasionally come to me with casts of their own faces which they had previously made. While I'm willing to work on a cast you provide, please be aware that in the process of shaping leather over a plaster cast, the cast will inevitably become stained and dirty (as you can see in the photo above), and it may even get chipped or scratched (it's not likely, but it is possible). If your face cast is a prized possession, and you don't wish to put it at risk, I can make a new cast from the existing one. New casts from existing face casts are $65.
If you want a new custom cast made from your own face, and you are in the New England area, we can set up an appointment to make a cast. Alternatively, I can point you to a number of websites with instructions for face casting, and there are kits for doing this yourself available at many art supply and craft stores.
Ultimately, a face cast is a good idea, but is not absolutely necessary. I can also work from measurements.
Making the Mask
When we're agreed on a design and a price, and I have your cast or your measurements, once I receive a deposit for one third of the total cost of the mask, I'll begin work on the mask itself. At this point, I can give you a estimate on delivery time as well. The time it takes to complete a mask depends on a number of variables, including the availability of any special materials (like antlers or horns), how many orders I am currently working on, and even the time of year - if you want a custom mask for Halloween, please don't write to request it in the first week of October, or for Mardi Gras, don't wait until February 1. Plan on at least 4-6 weeks from the time you approve a final design. Rush orders (guaranteed to ship within two weeks) are available for a rush charge of 50% of the price of the mask.
The balance of payment is due on completion of the mask, and when I've received the balance, I'll ship the mask to you. As with regular mask purchases, I normally ship UPS ground. Overnight UPS and Federal Express shipments are available at an additional charge, write or call for more information. COD shipping is not available on custom masks.
Once your mask ships, I'll email you a tracking number
Theatrical Masks: Most of my masks are fitted with ties of acrylic cord. For masks intended for theatrical use, I reccommend elastic instead. I use 1" wide elastic straps, with a friction slider (sometimes called a slider buckle) for adjusting the tension. The elastic strap is not only more secure, but requires less muss and fuss for the performer to get in and out of the mask quickly. The elastic strap adds $30 to the price of the mask (attaching them is more labor intensive than attaching ties), but most of my theatrical clients find it well worth the extra investment.
Glasses: People with vision problems are of course best advised to obtain contact lenses for use with masks, but some of us just can't wear contacts for one reason or another. If you need to wear glasses with a mask, there are several options, depending on the style of mask. Some masks can have small openings cut at the temples to allow glasses to be worn over the mask. Allowing space for glasses worn inside the mask can be done, but tends to distort the shape in ways which make it difficult to make the mask look right if it's an animal or human face style - allowing space for glasses inside the mask works best with abstract or decorative masks or headdresses. Of course, the smaller your glasses are, the easier this works. If you really want to go this route, you will need to measure your glasses precisely, and send me a closeup photo of them. Alternatively, you could also make a photocopy of them, laying the glasses face down on the glass of the photocopy machine.
One other alternative for glasses wearers, if you have an old pair of glasses (or if you want to have an inexpensive pair of lenses made at WalMart or another discount lens provider), you can send them to me, and I can mount the lenses right in the eyes of the mask. Please be aware that if I do this, they will not be removeable - once the lenses are mounted in the mask, they're there for good. You should also be aware that this will not assure perfect vision. Optometrists have to grind and set lenses very precisely for specific frames so the lenses will be exactly centered over your field of vision. Mounting the lenses in a mask, the centering will not be as precise as in a pair of glasses frames, so your vision may not be quite as good as it would be with a normal pair of glasses. Also, with some styles of masks (especially with helmets or other styles which cover large areas), lenses can sometimes fog up while you're wearing the mask, and you'll need to remove the mask to clear them.
The reality is, there isn't really an ideal solution for combining glasses with a mask, but if you really need to do so, I'll work with you to develop the best solution we can.